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We are now officially over two months into 2024. Business has been slow in the feed ingredient world, but despite that, these last two months have still passed in the blink of an eye.

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February is a pretty big data month in the agriculture world with the annual USDA Ag Outlook Conference as well as crop insurance prices being set for corn. This year had a little extra information with the release of the data from the 2022 Agricultural Census which I talked about last week.

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It’s been an exciting week here in Kansas City after the Chiefs became back-to-back Super Bowl Champions. This Broncos fan didn’t wear red, but I will admit that the Chiefs are fun to watch.

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Last Thursday, February 8, the USDA released their February World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. This took the focus off South American weather for a little while as analysts pondered what numbers the government would come out with.

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Though it wasn’t a surprise, perhaps the biggest headline in the ag world lately was due to the USDA cattle inventory report last week. The USDA confirmed that we now have the smallest herd of cattle in the country since 1951, and there aren’t many signs that it is rebuilding.

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At the time you are reading this, the January USDA reports will have been released already – on Friday, January 12th to be exact. However, at the time of this writing, I am purely speculating on what those reports are going to say.

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With busy holiday and travel schedules last week, I opted to forego any writing, so while I may be a little late to the game here, I hope everyone has had a fabulous start to the new year. I think this will be a very interesting year in the markets as we are possibly coming to an end of an agriculture super-cycle while simultaneously seeing record crops in several parts of the world.

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The markets saw some big swings last week for a variety of reasons, but there is one place in particular that the trade is giving much of its attention to: South America. South American weather, demand, and the policies of the new Argentine President have become the focus after a very neutral December WASDE report from the USDA.

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El Niño, a climate phenomenon characterized by the warming of sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, has far-reaching effects on weather patterns across the globe. One of its most notable impacts is on winter weather in the United States.

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I often mention certain contract months for commodities, such as “December corn” or “January soybean meal” and I understand that those terms may not mean much to some people, so I thought I might try to explain. With the end of November came First Notice Day for December contracts.

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Last week, the agriculture markets started off on shaky ground for a reason that you may not at first suspect: Argentina’s presidential election. It’s no secret that the happenings in South America impact our commodity prices, but at first thought, it’s usually something along the lines of weather or crop production in Argentina and Brazil.

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I think we have all noticed the increase in prices of everything from daily necessities like groceries and toiletries to unnecessary pleasures like Netflix and holiday decor. In true Thanksgiving spirit, I have been doing some research on the cost of this year’s turkey dinner and food inflation.

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It has been kind of a strange month. When I think of October, I of course think of Halloween and pumpkins and fall colors, but much of my thoughts are consumed with a more relevant topic: harvest.

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It’s becoming increasingly more frequent that I sit down to write this and I’m not sure at all what to say. This isn’t because of a lack of news, it is because there are so many ongoing situations and surprise events to keep track of—on top of the normal fundamental and technical details.

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With the USDA Quarterly Stocks report now behind us, the next focus is on the October 12th World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, as well as US harvest progress and South American weather. Harvest across the United States is moving right along with mostly clear weather forecasts not causing any delays.

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Over the last several weeks, the grain and oilseed markets have really struggled to hang on to any positive momentum. There have been moments of upside potential and others with even more concern to the downside.